Cotes du Rhone is one of the major French wine regions located in the southeastern corner of the country. The region stretches from Avignon in the south to the outskirts of Vienne in the north. The vineyards are mostly located on both sides of the mighty Rhone River. Southern Rhone’s sub-regions of Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Rasteau, Seguret, Cairanne, Gigondas Vacqueyras, Lirac, Tavel and Beaumes de Venise are further away from the river.
The region can be roughly divided in to south– (Avignon to Montelimar) and what the French call Cotes du Rhone meridional and northern Rhone (stretching form Valence to Vienne), what the French call Cotes du Rhone Septentrionales). Rhone is famous for its powerful, dark, well-extracted, long-lived wines. During the 19the century they were often used to fortify and ameliorate anemic Burgundy and occasionally Bordeaux wines. The French called such wines Hermitage, meaning blended with wine from the vineyards of Hermitage and proudly wrote it on the label. Since the introduction of the Appellation Controllee laws in the beginning of the 20th century, such practice was abolished.
The Rhone Valley is also home to some very famous white wines, but they are produced in such small quantities that we seldom see them on the shelves of our liquor stores. Red Rhone wines from single vineyards and small sub-regions are extremely expensive due to high demand and low supply, but there are plenty of fine wines from other sub-regions that deserve the attention of wine enthusiasts.
Northern Rhone is home of syrah for red wines and viognier for whites. Syrah a.k. a. shiraz in Australia, and many other New World wine producing countries yields exquisite wines in the hands of caring and skillful winemakers like G. Chave.
The appellations Chateau Grillet (the smallest appellation in all of France consisting of two hectares), Condrieu, Cornas, Cote Rotie, Crozes-Hermitage, Hermitage, Saint Joseph and Saith Peray stand out with their robust and deeply flavoured wines. In the south Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Gigondas, Vaqueyras, Lirac, Tavel, Seguret, Rasteau, Cairanne and Baumes de Venise stand out with their red wines except for Beaumes de Venise that is famous for its dessert wines made exclusively from muscat of Alexandria grapes.
There are several estates and a good number of co-operatives, some of which produce good quality.
Inky red brilliant colour. Excellent fruit with good extract and high alcohol. Needs one to two years of cellaring. Pair confidently with medium-rare beefsteaks, beef stews, game dishes and well aged cheddar, Parmesan.